What Would African Unity Look Like?

Okayafrica contributor Saratu is fed up with a homogenous idea of Africa, but she, like many of us, still wonders what a united Africa would look like. Here are her thoughts:

Even though an"African identity" doesn't exist, we still often speak of one. I’m Nigerian, and even though I very nearly shed a tear when Ghana lost to Uruguay in the last World Cup, I’m very much a Nigerian, not an African. Many of us are up in arms when people decide to box the entire continent in as though it were one country, where the distance between the states can be measured in vine swings. That said, let’s entertain this for a second: what would African Unity look like? I’ve put together a list. Feel free to add to it (or subtract from it) in the comments.

  • More intra-Africa trade.
  • Travelling across the continent, not just your regional block, would be easier than traveling to Europe.
  • … and along the same line, getting a South African visa wouldn’t be hell for a Nigerian (or let’s face it, any other non-American black person).
  • You can currently jam to AKA and Khuli Chana on MTVBase from wherever you are on the continent, but in a United Africa you could buy their records in stores and on the Nigerian-made music player/store Spinlet.
  • I could satisfy my doro wat craving in Lagos.
  • I could take Capoeira lessons. (Why is it easier to get capoeira lessons in Brazil than in Nigeria? Didn’t that mess come from Angola?)
  • The Caine Prize for African Literature wouldn’t be allergic to francophone or lusophone literature from the continent.
  • Universities around the continent would collaborate more on research and exchange programs.
  • Nobody’s national identity or ethnicity would be used as a cudgel against anyone else’s. People with low self-esteem are the worst bullies.
  • We would know ourselves and trust ourselves enough not to seek validation from outside, because that brand of insecurity is never a good thing.
Photo: Nick Beeba

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It's a common joke in Brazil: once three or more Brazilian people gather together, they will start a WhatsApp group. The producer and DJ Kai Wright, who goes by the alias Sango, is well aware of that. While he is giving this interview through a Zoom call, a sound notification pops from his computer. "Do you hear that?" he says, amidst laughs. "It's WhatsApp, this album was made through WhatsApp groups."

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